De Niro’s concentration on comedy in recent years has been depressing for fans of his earlier work, so this week’s The Good Shepherd – which he directed as well as cameos in – has been something of a relief even if it isn’t as good as it should have been. Thankfully, with loads of films in the pipeline, quite a few are set to involve straight acting for a change.
Next up is an adaptation of the Neil Gaiman fantasy novel Stardust, with a supremely impressive cast that includes the likes of Peter O’Toole, Ian McKellen, Rupert Everett, Ricky Gervais, Sienna Miller, Michelle Pfeiffer and Clare Danes. Then there’s New Orleans, a thriller about police corruption, with De Niro investigating with the help of his new partner, played by rapper 50 Cent, before hooking up with the rather more talented George Clooney for the crime drama 36.
Then it’s back to comedy for Hollywood expose What Just Happened?, based on the book by Heat and Fight Club producer Art Linson (who also wrote the screenplay), with De Niro playing a film producer having a tough time getting funding, with co-stars including the likes of Bruce Willis, Sean Penn and John Turturro. After that it’s more drama, starring alongside his erstwhile Taxi Driver co-star Jodie Foster for her latest directorial effort, Sugarland, about two lawyers fighting to end the exploitation of migrant sugar labourers.
Then more drama – and a return to familiar territory – for The Winter of Frankie Machine, with De Niro playing a retired mob hit man, lured back into his former profession for one last hit. Finally, he’s set to star as the husband of Meryl Streep female President of the United States in the political comedy First Man, which sounds promising – as does the computer game version of Heat, assuming De Niro, Al Pacino and Val Kilmer all sign on to do voice duties, as they’re currently only in negotiations.